By Cynthia Igbokwe
The chairman of cabinet chiefs of Ogbunka Community, Orumba South Local Government Area, Anambra State, and an elder statesman, Chief Chris Ifeanacho, has accused Chief Matthew Ezeabiakwa of betrayal and double speak over the kingship tussle in the town.
Chief Ifeanacho, in an interview with Fides in his house in Ogbunka, wondered why few individuals from Ogbunka would want to plunge the community into crisis by crowning one Johnmark Anyaoha as the monarch while the majority of the town were against such move.
He alleged that Chief Matthew Ezeabiakwa, whom, he said, should be one of the custodians of Ogbunka customs, decided to go against the Ogbunka Traditional Ruler’s Constitution (1985), as amended, by taking sides with an unpopular candidate and purportedly crowning him against the rules guiding the community.
‘We just heard that a few individuals gathered at night in his house and made him Igwe. It came as a surprise to us. I don’t even know where he was installed and how he was installed. There was no invitation to any person. We just woke up to hear that John Mark is now Igwe Ogbunka but the Igwe Ogbunka we know for now is Igwe Dr. Forster Ihejiofor; and for peace to reign in Ogbunka, we are begging Governor Willie Obiano not to issue any certificate of recognition to the wrong person,’ he said.
Ifeacho said the method of selecting a traditional ruler was enshrined in the Ogbunka Chieftaincy Constitution of 1985 as amended. The Constitution, he explained, stated that the Igweship in Ogbunka should be rotational, starting from Awuka Village.
‘In total obedience to this constitution, Ogbunka has given Awuka Village the opportunity to select Igwe Ogbunka in line with what is contained in the constitution.
‘The constitution also stated that the eldest family in the eldest village, will install Igwe Ogbunka; and in line with the dictates of the constitution, the Isiokpu Village has the staff of authority of Ogbunka (Ofor) and that was where HRH, Igwe Dr. Forster Ezenwa Ihejiofor, emerged and was installed to the knowledge of all elders and stakeholders.
‘I have not seen the kind of crowd that trooped out the day he was crowned. He danced from Orie Market to his father’s house and to his own personal house.
‘He is a great philanthropist; not only here in Ogbunka, but across towns and cities in Anambra State. He singlehandedly built a multimillion naira civic centre for this town, built a cottage hospital here and another at Atani in Ogbaru Council Area of Anambra State.
He gave scholarship to many, built houses for many youths and widows and sent many abroad for further studies,’ he recalled, disclosing that Igwe Foster Ihejiofor had trained over 200 graduates, and given a helping hand to churches, irrespective of denominations.
Meanwhile, Chief Matthew Ezeabiakwa dispelled the allegations, saying that Igwe John Mark was selected according to the Chieftaincy Constitution of Ogbunka and the Anambra State Traditional Rulers’ Law.
‘Chief Chris and his cohorts are a bunch of lawless people. Ogbunka has a constitution and Anambra State has a Traditional Rulers Law. They are mere trouble makers. You can find out the truth from the Commissioner for Local Government, Town Union and Chieftaincy Matters or the Special Adviser to the Governor on Town Union Matters. They are all aware of what we did. So we followed the Anambra State Law and the constitution of Ogbunka before crowning our king, Igwe John Mark Anyaoha. They are the ones fuelling the crisis in the community,’ Ezeabiakwa said.
He also noted that during the process they wrote to the village that was supposed to produce the next Igwe and they sent two persons; Dr Forster Ihejiofor and Chief John Mark Anyaoha, and two of them completed forms before the Igwe’s cabinet.
‘They paid N250, 000 each. They appeared on 22nd and 25th January, 2020, respectively,’ he said.